Neale-Wade Community College

(By Mike Smith, Head of Humanities, Neale-Wade Community College – an extract from an article)

Self Managed Learning was adopted as a learning strategy at Neale-Wade Community College two years ago as a means of delivering personalised learning for Gifted and Talented students in Key Stage 3. This article outlines the way that Self Managed learning has been adapted to meet the learning needs of the gifted and talented learning community and shares some of the successful outcomes achieved to date.


Neale-Wade Community College is a large comprehensive school in Fenland; the College’s students’ ability range broadly reflects that of students nationally. Prior to introducing Self Managed Learning, gifted and talented provision was patchy; in some curriculum areas excellent, in others less so. Analysis of CVA data also indicated that many able students were not achieving their potential. Self Managed Learning therefore offered a strategy for motivating and challenging able students thus creating an achievement culture amongst this particular group.

Student Outcomes

The quality of student work produced in Self Managed Learning workshops is outstanding; projects have included “The Maths of Bell Ringing”, “The Maths of Music” or writing a newspaper article in the style of a broadsheet and a tabloid. Student have also written and produced an anti bullying video “Beat the Bully”. This can be found under Neale-Wade on YouTube.

Equally important is the way Self Managed Learning allows students to grow into confident individuals. At the gifted and talented presentation evening it was fascinating to listen to two year 8 girls talking knowledgeably about the genre of the Sun newspaper for about 20 minutes to someone they had never met. At the end, the gentleman thanked the two girls, complemented them on their knowledge and left, having informed them that he was a Sun journalist!

Socially, Self Managed Learning has done a great deal for the students on the programme. Gifted and Talented students often feel marginalised; they have labels applied to them like geek, swot, “boff”. These taunts can really affect young teenagers, therefore some able students try to mask their abilities to fit in. By creating a gifted and talented community of over 70 students to date and by getting them to work in groups with similarly talented youngsters, these stigmas have largely been removed; they have a gang to fit into, their own. As a result, the growth in confidence and performance of many students is spectacular. Some students are improving an entire key stage level over the ten weeks. As one youngster suggested:

“It helped me to be confident about myself.”

Students are very enthusiastic about Self Managed Learning and having been involved in the programme once are keen to get involved again next year. As another student said:

“We get a chance to shine!”

What next?

Having established Self Managed Learning successfully in Key Stage 3 Neale-Wade is developing a variation of the model for use with able Key Stage 4 students.